Sunday, June 29, 2014

Understanding and Appreciating Ramadan.

We moved to Dubai a year and three months back. It was both an unexpected and a sudden move but one that we welcomed. They say that there are two gifts that you should give a child. One is roots and the other is wings. Moving to a country that is unfamiliar to you, experiencing a new way of living, becoming one of “them” and making it your home is part of the roots and wings course.

In little more than a year, home for Sara means only one place on the globe; Dubai. What do you like about Dubai we ask her? I love that park with swings, all my “best friends” are here, I like going to the beach (with truckloads of beach toys), I love my school because it is the best in the world, she says. UAE is my favorite country in the world,she adds. I smile. What is home after all; a place where you are surrounded by friends & family and where you make memories and this is exactly what my five year old is happy doing. Dubai is her home.

There is another side to it though and that is embracing the culture of the country you start calling home and ever since we moved to Dubai we are helping her do that. Be it learning the national anthem of UAE or taking baby steps to learn Arabic. Social science lessons at school were very pretty interesting this month where she studied both India and UAE and it made me grin with joy that the school was making her revisit her roots and helping her understand and see UAE closer.

Last year during Ramadan we were not in the city. This year things are a little different;  we are here, Ramadan has come much earlier, Sara has graduated from kindergarten and is a “big girl” now which means she can understand and appreciate Ramadan more than she could the year before. At school the children were taught about Ramadan and how some of her Muslim friends might be keeping their first Ramadan and it would be nice to support them.

We too have been discussing the significance of this holy month with her. I want her to understand why this month is so special for all her friends who are observing it and how she can be a part of this.

A couple of weeks back she got an opportunity to be a part of the Haq-Al-Lailah celebrations here where she received dates and sweets from some of our friends and we made fruit bars to share with everyone. We also had a little chat with her about the why’s and what’s of Haq-Al-Lailah. I am looking forward to doing the same with her for Ramadan and ofcourse Eid. I’d like her to appreciate the traditions associated with Ramadan and how sharing and giving are the fundamental principles behind it. Just like during Diwali when we share what we have with the less fortunate and thank God for what we he has blessed us with I’d like her to do her own little bit this year during this month of introspection, charity and gratitude.

Here’s what we have planned. 
  • She is going to be giving away toys and clothes (some new and some old) that belong to her to the needy. Giving away what is hers will make her understand that sharing is about having a big heart. 
  • She has a little piggy bank where she has been collecting coins for over a year now. It is not a huge amount but they are a invaluable for her. They are hers. We are going to take some of them and buy some icecreams or a candies or a doughnuts (clearly her list and not mine :)) for some children who have never had one for no childhood is complete without licking a lollipop or licking the ice-cream off your lips. 
  • Sara loves to bake and we have planned an entire afternoon of baking some yummy goodies that we are going to pack in pretty boxes and give away as gifts to both the underprivileged and our lovely neighbours for only when you make something with your own hands you realize the amount of work that goes into making someone happy. Sharing them with her neighbors and friends will teach her the importance of building a community spirit.
All of the above are really simple gestures for often simple is most meaningful.

I also came across some lovely books for the kids for the Non-Muslim expat children to understand Ramadan better. They ofcourse are great for kids who are observing their first Ramadan this year as well.
My little chefling & I wish all those who are observing Ramadan; Ramadan Kareem and are sharing a healthy recipe we often make at home. Also here is a little gift to all those little kids who are fasting with their mums and dads this year. 
A countdown calendar of sorts to encourage them and reward them for nothing excites a kid more than a star sticker (take it from me). You could print this and give your little one a star sticker at the end of the day for being able to complete their fast successfully and ofcourse to keep a track of how many days until Eid :)

Brown rice, spinach and pomegranate salad
This power packed wholesome salad is a great way to introduce your children to the joy of eating brown rice and green leaves.  It is a salad but doesn’t quite feel like a salad for it has rice and kids love rice. There are dates and peaches take care of the sweetness that they love and cutting down any little bitterness from baby spinach. In addition this one pot meal has the goodness of the coconut oil, the anti-oxidant properties of turmeric & pomegranate and the vitamins and minerals from dates and ofcourse the good fats from the peanuts. Just what the little bodies will need after a day of fasting.

Ingredients (Makes 4 large portions)
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 tsp coconut nut oil
  • 1/8th  tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar or any other of your choice
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp sumac or any dry herb available
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 cup peaches or any stone fruit
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 100 grams baby spinach
  • 1 cup salted peanuts

Instructions:
  1. Cook the brown rice according to instructions on the pack. Simply add turmeric to the water in which you are going to cook it.
  2. Combine the vinegar, olive oil, 1 tsp of sumac, salt, chilli flakes, lemon juice and salt if using to make the dressing.
  3. To the dressing, add the dates, red onion, nectarine, pomegranate seeds and leave it to develop flavours.
  4. Place the spinach in a large salad bowl.
  5. Just before serving, dress the salad. Add the boiled rice. And mix gently Sprinkle the remaining sumac and the peanuts and shake some extra olive oil on top if you like. 

Images : Personal Album. All images belong to orangekitchens and are subject to copyright. The printable is only for personal use. 

2 comments:

Neelu A Ahmed said...

Thank you for sharing our religion and culture with your family. :)

Ramadan Kareem!
Neelu

orangekitchens said...

Neelu: Ramadan Kareem to you and yours. How lucky we are all to live in this city where we and our kids get to absorb so much goodness from so many different cultures. Blessed.

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